America plays on after festival weathers rain

PARKERSBURG – Although rain fell throughout the day, conditions cleared up Sunday night as the crowds returned for the band America to take the stage and close out the 2013 Parkersburg Homecoming Festival.

The band, fronted by Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell, took the stage around 8 p.m. to a crowd of thousands with their classic hits “Tin Man,” “Ventura Highway,” “A Horse With No Name” and others.

There were some who wondered how well the evening show would go as rain fell throughout the area most of the day.

“With any outside event, and I have been working them for 50 years, this is an issue you can’t do anything about,” said Homecoming spokesman Randall Roberts. “You plan your event. If the rain comes you just deal with it.”

The show was ready to go on rain or shine, with the only reason they might cancel would be lightning and blowing rain which could damage the equipment, he said.

Roberts, who admitted to looking at a weather report “every 10 seconds,” said most reports gave them a period of calm from around 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday where things would clear off long enough to get the America show in.

The rains cleared out and people came out with the vendors once again serving food and the carnival rides running, which had not been seeing a lot of people earlier in the day.

Linda and Bill Mason, of Williamstown, were among those watching the skies to see if the weather would clear as Sunday evening approached.

“We wanted to hear America,” Linda Mason said. “They were back in our day.

“We graduated in the ’70s and that was our kind of music back then.”

Her favorite America song remains “A Horse With No Name.”

“We were watching the weather from the basement door,” she said. “When the weather straightened up and the rain stopped, we made the decision to get into the car and come.”

Roberts said things turned out all right in time for the concert.

Even during Sunday’s rain, the winners of the annual Rubber Ducky Derby were picked in a drawing at the main stage.

The Rubber Ducky Derby winners were: first, Charlie Ballengee; second, Nancy Kimes; third, Norman Miller; fourth, Jessica Gape; fifth, Judy Spears; sixth, Kim Neal; seventh, Pat Henrie; eighth, Chuck Frederick; ninth, Debbie Elder; and 10th, Bob Raines.

Despite the rain Sunday, Roberts said the Homecoming Festival saw a lot of people during its first two days.

“The first two days have gone as good, if not better, than any festival we have had before,” he said of Friday and Saturday at the Homecoming. “We had a lot of foot traffic through here and our vendors were busy.

“Our carnival rides were good and the attendance at our concerts were good. We had been blessed with two good days of entertainment, food and activities going on. We will deal with whatever happens (Sunday).”

Putting the carnival rides at the Wood County Justice Center as opposed to behind the Blennerhassett Museum gave the carnival a lot more visibility this year.

“It has worked out a lot better for everyone,” Roberts said. “They are more visible, they have a good area to work with and traffic has been good for them.”

Lou Taylor, of Vienna, was down around the main stage Sunday afternoon getting rid of water that had collected in people’s seats.

“I saw all of these puddles collecting and thought it was the least I could do to empty them out,” he said.

Taylor was hopeful the rain would clear out so people would come down and finish out the festival in grand style.

“Hopefully, it will be all right,” he said. “It is a shame nothing was going on (at around 5 p.m.)”

Sunday afternoon, Karen Cayton, of Vienna, was hopeful the rains would clear off.

“The rain almost makes you not want to come out, but I still wanted to,” she said. “It is sad because the Homecoming needs the people out here.

“I planned to be here rain or shine to see America perform, even if I have to have my umbrella.”

Later, as crowds were gathering and the show was about to start, Cayton was happy the rains had cleared off and a large crowd had gathered, but she wished even more people would have come out Sunday.

“I have been here all weekend,” she said. “This is my weekend to enjoy for myself.”

Overall, Cayton’s Homecoming weekend was very enjoyable.

“It has been great,” she said. “I am a little disappointed. I think there is less vendors and displays than there use to be.

“I would really like to see that grow. I think that would attract more people. The entertainment has been great. I was really impressed and I am anxious to hear America tonight. It has been a long time, but I have been waiting for them.”